Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains a list of frequently asked questions both specifically about the Beltway Backgammon club and general backgammon-related questions.

How do I join the club?

What should I bring with me?

How many players do you get at tournaments?

How long do the tournaments last?

How many matches will I play?

Where can I get a good board locally?

How strong is the level of play at the club?

Do you have separate brackets for players of different skill levels?

Why does your website look like it is from about 1997?


How do I join the club?

Show up and play. It's that simple! There are no dues or membership fees. And 100% of the entry fees and optional side pool fees are returned to the top finishers. Whether you want to come play twice a month, or twice a quarter, or twice a year, or twice a decade, you decide! We won't judge you.

What should I bring with me?

Bring your board if you have one. If you don't and you're new to the scene, you don't need to rush out and buy a board. In fact, I discourage it, for reasons explained in this FAQ answer.

Bring $35 in cash- $20 for your tournament entry fee, and $15 will get you a voucher that can be applied to your tab at our venue. When you ask your server to close out your tab, make sure to give him or her your voucher.

How many players do you get at tournaments?

In 2016 we had a total of 430 entrants for our 24 tournaments. You can do the math. You can see the attendance for all of tournaments dating back to at least 2001. Click on the 'Results' link on the left frame of our main page and you can see the attendance (as well as results) for each tournament for that year. At the bottom of this page you should be able to find a dropdown list to select the results for any year going back to 2001.

How long do the tournaments last?

The main bracket usually finishes by 5 or 6 pm, but the consolation bracket usually lasts an hour or two beyond that. If you have other obligations later that afternoon or early evening, this may not be a good day for you to play in our tournament.

How many matches will I play?

You will have the opportunity to play until one of the following events happens- you will either play until you lose two matches or you will finish with zero or one loss because you have won some prize money! You can even lose two matches and still win prize money sometimes. (Specifically, the consolation-bracket runner-up in fields of 17 or more will finish with two losses but still win prize money).

Where can I get a good board locally?

You can't. Okay, you can. But it isn't cheap. There is a gentleman that lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland that makes very nice custom wooden boards that I can put you in touch with. Maybe I'll even put his contact information here at some point, but don't hold your breath as it took me sixteen years to create this FAQ page.

Here's the deal. Unless you can find a great deal on a used board on eBay or somewhere, new tournament-sized boards start at about $150, so, we want you to be good stewards of your money- come play at our tournaments a few times and make sure you enjoy tournament play (and our company, which I hope you will), before spending your money on a new board. When you're ready to purchase, we'll let you know what options will fit your budget and where to look online.

Okay, you don't want to come play at our club, you just want to know where to get a good board, we can accept that. Just click the link that says "Links" in our frame to the left and click on the first link on that page that says Gammon Links and then click on the link that says 'Boards' near the top of that page. I can personally state that I have a Taki-Board and a P-40 Board that are both extremely high-quality boards. I also can recommend without reservation checking out Carol Joy Cole's Backgammon Boutique for a wide variety of choices. Carol is known as the "Queen of Backgammon" and is beloved worldwide by the backgammon community and would not sell a product she does not believe in. Tell her I sent you!

How strong is the level of play at the club?

We have a very strong club. There are a lot of very strong players that play in our tournaments regularly, including 2016 American Backgammon Tournament player of the year Ed O'Laughlin. But we also have novice- and intermediate-level players. Don't be afraid to come play if you feel you'll be overmatched. We do not want to slaughter you. We love the game of backgammon and we want to help you improve your game. I'll explain more in the answer to the next FAQ, which is really sort of a continuation of this one.

Do you have separate brackets for players of different skill levels?

No. We have a single bracket for all players. If you're a newbie and feel like you'd be overmatched, consider this for a moment. For a $20 entry fee, you are guaranteed at least two matches. You'll almost always learn something from your matches if you're playing a stronger player. Additionally, even if you are eliminated from our tournament early, you are welcome to watch other matches and learn from them. And really, our match lengths of 7 points in the main (undefeated) and 5 points in the consolation (one-loss) brackets are short enough that even a new player has a decent chance to beat our top players. Yes, the game involves skill. But this isn't chess. Go for it!!

Some players spend $50 to $100 an hour for private backgammon lessons. For only $20 you have a great opportunity to play and observe world-class players and the opportunity to learn from this for $20 is a pretty good bargain. Plus, we have a library of books that are available at most of our tournaments that you can check out and take home with you for study. (A deposit may be required).

Why does your website look like it is from about 1997?

Because, basically, it is. In my very limited free time, I had a choice bewteen studying and playing backgammon, or studying web design. Can you guess which one I chose? ;-)


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